The following article was written by one of my clients, also a doctor, but in another health field. He’s the same client who created the High-Conflict Phases of Abuse, Blame-Shifting, Distortion, Rage and Manipulation Diagram. In the article below, he sorts out the difference between having a judgmental mind versus having a discerning mind.
He makes a very good argument that many high-conflict and/or abusive personality-disordered individuals are very able and willing to judge others based on their own inconsistent emotional states that rarely have anything to do with reality, but are unable to assess situations with logical and factual discernment. This results in splitting (i.e., black and white/all-or-nothing thinking) and ongoing abuse directed toward their partners or anyone who challenges or criticizes them in any way. It makes very interesting and meritorious food for thought. What do you think?
High-Conflict and Abusive Personality-Disordered Women: The Emotional Judging Mind Vs. the Discerning Mind
by: Anonymous Client a.k.a. AC007
If you have been involved with a high-conflict woman, you have, without a doubt, been subjected to your share of harsh criticism and judgment. No one is perfect, but you know that the criticism you receive is unwarranted. The sheer quantity and repetitive nature of her judgments will serve as a red flag at some point.
Any defense of your alleged offenses will certainly elicit a response that you are always judging her in some way. On the surface, this counterpoint makes just enough sense to seem valid. I mean, you were probably somewhat critical of her in your defense, right? It is easy to get caught in this quagmire.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines judgment as a formal utterance of authoritative opinion. But what happens when this opinion is based on distorted views and the authority is an emotionally-charged victim who never takes responsibility for anything? The net result is that her judgments become false and self-serving accusations. Her goal is to put you in a one-down situation whereby you constantly have to defend yourself.
Your defensive responses then fulfill her prophecy that you are the critical, judgmental person. In actuality, the judgments you defend lack any merit because they are based on her distorted views. But somehow, you go there anyways hoping to prove yourself right, but always finding the arguments futile. So what is really going on?
I would offer that the answer lies in understanding the conceptual differences between judgment and discernment. Judgment creates a polarized emotional value of good or bad directed towards something or someone. During adversity with a high-conflict individual, their judgments are negative and always directed towards others because they lack the introspective ability to assess any faults of their own.
Wrestling with their own unspoken inferiority, they negatively judge you to make themselves feel superior. They attack your character in order to make your morals and principles appear flawed. Strategically, they base everything on emotion and not reality. It is this illogical thinking that makes their judgmental nature so difficult to understand. Ultimately, you are not really defending yourself, but fighting her deep rooted inferiority complex.
So how can we rationalize her counterclaim of your judgmental nature? The answer is based on how you assess a situation in your mind. Although we are all guilty of being emotional and judgmental at times, I would suggest that your best efforts to defend yourself are based on discernment. Discernment is defined as the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. A discerning mind can detach from the situation and thereby look at the facts objectively and without emotional attachment. Decisions can be rendered without excuses, blaming, distorting the facts or the need to feel superior.
A discerning mind will conform its actions to the facts. A discerning individual will acknowledge that no person will agree with them all of the time. They can agree to disagree. They know that they are in control of their own decisions and outcomes. There is no need to control others. A difference of opinion is not actually judging someone as bad, but rather, assessing a situation and responding to it in a logical and non-contradictory way. However, since a high-conflict woman only knows judgment, she will perceive any defense or counter perspective from you as you trying to make her look inferior. This threatens her and triggers further conflict and rage. It becomes a vicious cycle
Ideally, a relationship would be one of mutually discerning minds. Discussions could be resolved based on the facts and not inconsistent, emotional judgments. Unfortunately, the high-conflict individual lacks such prerequisites as empathy and introspection in order to develop discernment. This results in a runaway judgmental mind that sees the world in black or white where everything is either all good or all bad (i.e., splitting).
Because emotions tend to be inconsistent by nature, judgments themselves become inconsistent over time. This accounts for her ability to hate you at bedtime, but love you in the morning as everything revolves around her labile emotional barometer. This lack of discernment, coupled with a perpetual judgmental mindset, sets the stage for her never-ending unhappiness and chronic lack of accountability. As a result, you constantly walk on perpetually shifting landmines and gradually become emotionally detached. She claims to be the one who has always fought for the marriage, but in reality, she has done everything to destroy it.
The long-term prognosis for any interpersonal development on her part is unlikely because she lacks the necessary mindset required to analyze and modify her behaviors. Any effort on your part to help her change this mindset will only incur more harsh, negative judgment directed at you. Your best option is to be discerning and evaluate the relationship yourself. Understanding and believing that you are not the critical and judgmental person should serve as a starting point. Ultimately, you need to decide whether to accept her as she is or to not participate in the relationship at all.
In the mean time, try to accept that her judging nature is not really about you, but rather a reflection of her insecurities and attempts to feel superior, even though it’s very cold comfort.
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Shrink4Men Coaching and Consulting Services:
Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.
image 1: by Dyanna on flickr
image 2: unknown